The installation of a new gas main and improvements has led to lane closures and an “eyesore” for local residents, but the project is entering its final phase.

East Paces Ferry is closed between Piedmont Road and the Peachtree Park neighborhood. Photo by Rob Knight

Atlanta Gas Light has been working to update its infrastructure along several major Buckhead thoroughfares since July 2021, causing traffic issues and what one nearby resident calls an “eyesore” for homeowners in the area. Though complete relief for those who travel through or live in the area is still a few months away, the “Piedmont Enhancement Project” is now entering the home stretch. According to the natural gas provider, the installation of the upgraded system is complete, and now crews will work to “restore” the project zone.

The scope of the project

Part of the new infrastructure behind the former Buckhead Diner at Piedmont Rd and East Paces Ferry. Photo by Rob Knight

The project entails infrastructure upgrades along a three-mile stretch of Piedmont Road from East Pelham Road NE to the intersection of Peachtree Road and Piedmont Road with additional construction taking place along East Paces Ferry Road from Piedmont Road to West Paces Ferry. The total scope of the work includes the installation of a new natural gas main on East Paces Ferry Road and a regulator station, along with the replacement of “vintage” mains in the area. Atlanta Gas Light says the project will help the company meet increasing natural gas demand among residential and commercial customers while improving the safety, reliability and resiliency of its infrastructure. 

neighborhood concerns

The entrance to Peachtree Park at East Paces Ferry, February 2023. Photo by Rob Knight

Lane closures, construction crews and their equipment have been a consistent sight along the area over the last year as work has been in full swing. Christine Bird, who lives nearby in the Peachtree Park neighborhood, has called the project an eyesore and has shared some concern over some unsettling warning signs near the work area related to compressed gas in the area. Although, she did note Georgia Power, Atlanta Gas Light’s parent company, has been a good neighbor, and she was not opposed to the infrastructure updates. 

“My only concern about all this, I think it might be affecting traffic with the road closed for a year now,” Bird said. “And the whole thing is just an eyesore. All the dirt and gravel everywhere, the road closure, and nothing seems to be happening.” 

Those troubles may soon be alleviated as the project transitions from its construction phase to a refurbishing of the construction area. Alicia Young, a representative with Atlanta Gas Light, said the focus of the project has shifted from installation and upgrade work to finalizing the project. Pipeline installation is complete with crews “currently working to restore the project area.” 

“Community members may notice work in several locations,” Young said. 

She added restoration to the right-of-way and other construction areas to their pre-construction conditions are underway along with final inspections. 

Timeline going forward

While the website for the project,, states the project was expected to be completed by the end of 2022— six months ahead of schedule — but Atlanta Gas Light is now stating the entirety of the project should be completed by this spring.  

Lane closures will still be in place as the project draws to a close. No additional lane closures — those beyond what are currently in place or have been during construction — are expected, but “some of the restoration will require temporary lane closures,” Young said. 

Atlanta Gas Light has “worked diligently to ensure that access to local businesses remained opened during construction,” she said. However, some customers have been required to enter properties at different locations, including, at one point, those visiting the Kyma Greek restaurant. 

Young said those in the community who have additional questions can contact the project’s contact line at 404-584-3145 or email

A makeover of a former restaurant and office building on Buckhead’s Piedmont Road is intended as the first stage of a long-term plan that includes townhomes and a hotel.

Plans for 3121 and 3125 Piedmont in Peachtree Park were presented by the development team at a Nov. 2 meeting of the Development Review Committee (DRC) of Special Public Interest District 9 (SPI-9), a zoning area aimed at design details and walkability. 

A model of the post-renovation buildings at 3121 and 3125 Piedmont Road, as shown in a City filing. The restaurant is at the left and the commercial building is at the right.

The buildings, located at the intersection with Martina Drive, formerly housed the restaurant Divan, which moved following a fire a year ago, and a hair replacement business. The property is owned by the Jooma family, which also runs the nearby Icebox jewelry store

The current plan would keep both buildings – the house that was home to the restaurant and the two-story commercial building – but add onto them and connect them with a “sky deck” with open-air seating. An existing surface parking lot fronting on Piedmont would be rearranged, and more added in the rear, for a total of 19 spaces. And 10 more spaces would be built underground beneath the commercial building.

Robb McKerrow, an architect and consultant on the project, told the DRC that’s just the first step of a long-term concept that has already been floated to City planners. Future concepts include placing the parking underground and building retail space and a roughly six-story “boutique” hotel on the corner, and five townhomes with roof decks atop the commercial structure.

For now, though, McKerrow said, the plan is to renovate the “derelict” buildings so they can be rented again. For the restaurant space, the fire-damaged kitchen would be torn down and replaced in a two-story addition that also includes a new upstairs dining room. The addition also would involve what McKerrow called a “dramatic” new lobby and stairway in a tower-like structure.

The commercial building would get an addition to expand its leaseable space and another tower-like exterior stairway. The exterior walls would be replaced and refinished. A small patio would be built in the rear for employee use.

McKerrow said the developers aim to change less than 40% of the existing site on the understanding that avoids having to “go full SPI-9” – meaning triggering the zoning’s special design requirements. However, DRC members and City planner Nathan Brown said that is not the only trigger and that, as Brown said, the developers should make some “good-faith efforts” toward its goals.

McKerrow responded by emphasizing the plans are preliminary and saying, “The idea is not to get out of the SPI requirements…. [W]e’re not trying to get away with anything.”

DRC members had concerns with the major streetfront remaining a parking lot that pedestrians would have to walk through to access either building. Another concern was using an existing curb cut on Martina, currently giving access to a dumpster, as the driveway for the underground parking. 

DRC member Sally Silver called the pedestrian access “totally underwhelming.” Responded McKerrow, “We will work to make that more ‘whelming.’”

DRC member Bob Stasiowski, who lives nearby on Martina, advised the team to meet with the Peachtree Park Civic Association, Neighborhood Planning Unit B and other local neighborhood groups. 

An illustration of what the facade of the commercial building at 3125 Piedmont might look like after renovation, as seen in a City filing.

He also mentioned noise and other complaints with previous restaurants and urged good management. Co-owner Rafi Jooma said he had purchased the adjacent house at 565 Martina to avoid such issues but that finding a good restaurant tenant and having good security are priorities.

Jooma asked the DRC for its opinion on the pros and cons of placing a bench at a MARTA bus stop on Piedmont on the edge of the site, which currently lacks any amenities for riders. That meant concern about homeless people sleeping on furniture. DRC chair Denise Starling called it a “tricky conversation” and Stasiowski advised that there’s “no good answer.”

Not discussed – and not technically within the DRC’s purview – is the possible historic value of the existing buildings. According to Fulton County property records, the restaurant building dates to 1960 and the commercial building to 1965 – both beyond the 50-year rule of thumb for historical considerations. However, they appear to lack any official historic status and are not included in the local Peachtree Highlands-Peachtree Park Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Andrew Senzer, the outgoing commander of Buckhead’s Zone 2 precinct. Credit: APD

Buckhead’s Atlanta Police Department precinct is seeing a changing of the guard as its current commander has received a promotion to deputy chief.

Andrew Senzer, who has led the Zone 2 precinct since November 2019 with the rank of major, will head APD’s Strategy and Special Projects Division, he announced at an April 7 meeting of the Buckhead Public Safety Task Force.

Major Ailen Mitchell, who has served as Senzer’s assistant since 2020, will be the new Zone 2 commander, Deputy Chief Timothy Peek said in the meeting.

The transition will happen on April 14, according to APD. The current head of the Strategy and Special Projects Division, Deputy Chief Darin Schierbaum, is being promoted to the vacant position of assistant chief of police.

Senzer was Buckhead’s police commander through the historic COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying crime spike, including the May 2020 rioting and looting in local business areas that spun out of Black Lives Matter protests about the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd.

He also led through the beginning of the Buckhead cityhood movement that based itself on crime concerns. While crime spiked, Senzer took a zero-tolerance approach and Buckhead continues to have the city’s lowest crime rate.

“It really has been an honor to serve as the commander of Zone 2,” Senzer said in the task force meeting. “In my 26 years [in policing], this has probably been the most challenging assignment I’ve had.”

Atlanta Police Department Major Ailen Mitchell, the new Zone 2 commander. Credit: APD

He said his new role will be “a little behind the scenes” but that he will “not be a stranger” in Buckhead.

Peek said APD is “ecstatic” about Senzer taking on the deputy chief role.

Mitchell, according to his APD biography, has been with the department since 2006. He previously commanded the SWAT team and, like Senzer, once served on the Red Dog unit, an anti-drug squad disbanded in 2011 after controversial incidents like an illegal raid on the Atlanta Eagle gay bar. Among his other work was the Gang Unit and the Auto Theft Task Force.

Mitchell became Zone 2’s Criminal Investigations Unit commander in 2018 and its assistant commander in 2020.

Zone 2 is headquartered at 3120 Maple Drive in Buckhead Village.

Update: This story has been updated with information from APD about the transition.